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School of Environment and Natural Resources


EPN Webinar - March 9, 2021: Equity strategies in water affordability for marginalized communities

Mar 9, 2021, 10:00am - 12:30pm
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Zoom Webinar
Cecil Okotah

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* By registering for this event, you will receive automatic program information including a link to resources shared during this program, which will be sent by WMAO, our program co-host.


Ohio State’s Environmental Professionals Network (EPN), partnering with the Water Management Association of Ohio (WMAO), the School of Earth Sciences (SES), the Global Water Institute (GWI), and TerrAqua (an Ohio State student organization), are co-hosting this virtual event to focus attention on water affordability and equity strategies to support residents in marginalized communities.

Join this event to explore equity strategies for affordable drinking water from the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network and Martin County (Kentucky) Concerned Citizens, and affordable wastewater services by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in the Cleveland, Ohio region. These respective community-based approaches to navigate the provision of safe, clean water at affordable rates will be reviewed in detail. Presenters will provide place-based roadmaps towards an equitable water future and promising water equity initiatives from a national perspective.  

This program is in alignment with the 2021 World Water Day theme, 'Valuing Water,' and seeks to spark conversations surrounding water pricing issues and how such problems affect marginalized societies and our environment. One goal of these presentations is to inspire future dialogues and idea generation to create Ohio-based policies that improve drinking water and wastewater programs and requirements for affordability.

Our virtual event features an educational session (10:00 a.m. -11:15 a.m.) as well as a networking round table session (11:30 a.m. -12:30p.m.) for students with water management professionals from academia, nonprofits, governmental entities, and the private sector, which will be facilitated by EPN, WMAO, SES and GWI. Please refer to the breakout session details in the agenda below for water career topic areas.


9:55 a.m. Waiting room opens  

10:00 a.m. Jeff Sharp, PhD, director, School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) provides welcome remarks.   

10:05 a.m. Eugene Braig, program director of aquatic ecosystems (SENR) and board president (WMAO) and Hannah Comune, president, TerrAqua, Environment and Natural Resources major, provide program introduction. 

10:10 a.m. Crystal M.C. Davis, vice president of policy and strategic engagement, Alliance for the Great Lakes 

10:25 a.m. Constance Haqq, chief administrative officer, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District 

10:40 a.m. Betsy Taylor, PhD, founding director and cultural anthropologist, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network  

10:55 a.m. Audience Q & A with Davis, Haqq and Taylor  

11:15 a.m. Concluding remarks by Dr. Sharp.  

 – Break –

11:30 a.m. Networking roundtables for students and water resource professionals from academia, nonprofits, governmental entities, and the private sector (co-hosted by the EPN, WMAO, SES, and GWI)

11:35 a.m. Breakout sessions begin

Water career topic areas:

  • Floodplain Management/ Stormwater
  • Groundwater/ Geology
  • Dam Safety/ Lake Management
  • Drinking Water/ Wastewater
  • Agriculture/ Watershed Management
  • Education/ Environmental Communication
  • Climate and Water

12:30 p.m. Program concludes


Crystal M.C. DavisCrystal M.C. Davis, vice president of policy and strategic engagement, Alliance for the Great Lakes 
Crystal M.C. Davis joined the Alliance for the Great Lakes as Policy Director in 2016. Based in Cleveland, Crystal leads the Alliance’s policy and advocacy efforts related to Lake Erie and manages the organization’s Ohio office. She has played an integral role in the Alliance’s emerging work around drinking water and developing a people-centered model for protecting the Great Lakes. Crystal enjoys connecting individuals and communities to the lakes and freshwater resources we all rely on. Crystal brings to the Alliance more than a decade of experience in government affairs, advocacy and public policy at the local, state and federal levels. Before joining the Alliance, Crystal spent eight years in government relations with Kent State University (KSU). Most recently, she served as Federal Relations Director for KSU’s Office of Government & Community Relations in Washington, D.C., where she established the university’s office on Capitol Hill. Crystal has also worked for the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Even as a self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” Crystal has a deep appreciation for her Great Lake, Lake Erie. She is passionate about connecting urban communities with opportunities to advocate for our freshwater resources. Crystal is a graduate of Kent State University and winner of the 2015 Ohio TRiO Trailblazer Award.


Constance HaqqConstance Haqq, chief administrative officer, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District 
Constance T. Haqq joined the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in 2005. She is responsible for the development of the organizations communications and community relations department which include internal and external communications, public outreach, public education, customer service and government affairs. Her team has won numerous national and local industry awards drawing attention to the environmental and community health aspects of the organization’s work. Under her leadership the organization and employee development function at the District was created. As a trainer and master facilitator, Constance conducts session on a variety of topics including: Crucial Conversation, Personal Empowerment and Diversity and Inclusion. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she holds a Bachelors degree from Tufts University and a Masters in Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining the District she has held leadership positions as Executive Director of the Nordson Corporation Foundation, INROADS/Northeast Ohio, Inc. and INROADS/Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Inc. Constance has served on numerous boards of directors including: Karamu House, Inc. Ohio Boys Town and St. Ignatius High School. She is currently a member of the Commission on Economic Inclusion’s Advisory Board and the owner of Constance T. Haqq Consulting, LLC a personal coaching practice. Constance is the proud grandmother of three: Lavannah, Quentin and Shyla.


Betsy TaylorBetsy Taylor, PhD founding director and cultural anthropologist, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network 
Dr. Betsy Taylor is LiKEN founding director and a cultural anthropologist.  Over the past 25 years, she has worked for community-driven development in Appalachia and South Asia to integrate issues of health, agriculture, forestry, culture and environmental stewardship.  In popular and scholarly venues, she writes about environmental and social justice movements, democratic planning and participatory research, women’s issues, the commons, democratic reclamation of academe / professions.  She co-authored, with Herbert Reid, the book, Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2010). At the University of Kentucky, she served as Co‐Director of Environmental Studies, Research Director for the Appalachian Center and on the faculty of the Social Theory program, and during her years at Virginia Tech, she was a research faculty member in the Appalachian Studies program.  She served on the steering committee of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative from 2013-2017. She served as chair of the Human Rights / Social Justice Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology from 2015-2017.  Many of her writings can be found on her website.


We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Cecil Okotah ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

This program will be recorded, edited, and posted to the EPN YouTube page by March 16, 2021.